Sir Stanley William Wells, CBE (born 21 May 1930) is a Shakespearean scholar, writer, professor and editor who has been honorary president of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, professor emeritus at Birmingham University, and author of many books about Shakespeare, including Shakespeare Sex and Love, and is general editor of the Oxford and Penguin Shakespeares. He lives in Stratford-upon-Avon and was educated in English at University College, London.
Wells was born in Hull, the son of Stanley Cecil Wells MBE and Doris Wells. His father was a bus company traffic manager. Wells was educated at the Kingston High School grammar school in Hull. Wells took a degree in English at University College, London. He was invalided out of national service for the RAF in 1951. He became a Hampshire school teacher before moving to Stratford to complete his PhD. He was awarded his PhD in English by Birmingham University in 1961.
Wells is co-editor (with Gary Taylor, John Jowett and William Montgomery) of the Oxford Complete Works and (with Michael Dobson) the Oxford Companion to Shakespeare, and has been general editor of the Oxford Shakespeare series since 1978. He edited several volumes for the New Penguin Shakespeare series.
On 20 October 2009 he appeared on BBC 4's comedy panel show It's Only a Theory - defending the prevailing opinion within contemporary Shakespeare studies that 'The plays of William Shakespeare were written by William Shakespeare of Stratford-Upon-Avon' and debunking the theory that Shakespeare's plays were written by some of his contemporaries.
In June 2010, he was awarded the Sam Wanamaker Award by Shakespeare's Globe, an award given annually in the name of the Globe's founder Sam Wanamaker to celebrate work which has increased the understanding and enjoyment of Shakespeare.
In 2013, together with Rev. Dr. Paul Edmondson, he called upon the Dean and Chapter of Westminster Abbey to remove the question mark which appears in place of a date of death in the memorial window to Christopher Marlowe in Poets' Corner in Westminster Abbey.
Wells is married to novelist Susan Hill, and the couple was once considered part of the "Gloucestershire mafia" set of well-connected writers and socialites. The couple separated around 2011 after nearly 40 years of marriage when Hill moved in with scriptwriter Barbara Machin, who at the time was adapting Hill's crime fiction for television.
He is the father of author Jessica Ruston and of Clemency Wells. Imogen, Hill and Wells second born, died in infancy.
Wells was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2007 Birthday Honours for services to literature. He was knighted in the 2016 Birthday Honours for services to scholarship.
Six years ago